Bill banning Iowa guaranteed income programs advances in Senate

A pilot program is currently underway in Des Moines.

(The Center Square) - A Senate subcommittee greenlighted a bill Tuesday that would ban guaranteed incomes in Iowa.

House File 2319 passed the House of Representatives by a 55-43 last week. It bans cities and counties from participating in guaranteed income programs.

A pilot program is currently underway in Des Moines. UpLift – The Central Iowa Basic Income Pilot doled out its first $500 to recipients last May to residents in Polk, Dallas and Warren counties, according to the program's website. The 24-month program aims "to study the impacts of a sustained monthly income on participants’ health and well-being."

Seventy percent of the program's funding is from private sources, while the other 30% is public funding, according to Ashley Ezzio, senior project coordinator for Uplift.

Tyler Raygor, state director for the Iowa chapter of Americans for Prosperity, said his organization opposed guaranteed income programs that use taxpayer money.

"Whether they are federal dollars, state dollars or local dollars, those dollars are to be protected from being taken out of hard-working Iowans pocket...and given to somebody that did nothing but exist," Raygor said during testimony.

Sen. Tony Bisignano, D-Des Moines, questioned why some lawmakers focused on the Des Moines-based program and called out Raygor for his remarks.

"To say the we don't want to give money to people who just exist, you know every week is almost a new low in this place, the way we talk about human beings, the way we talk about people that work here represent," Bisignano said. "I don't know why you hate my community. I don't hate yours."

Less than 2% of the participants in Uplift said they were unemployed and not looking for work, Ezzio said. Fifty-eight percent reported working full-time or part-time, and others reported being unpaid caregivers who stayed at home, were disabled, looking for work or pursuing education.

Sen. Mike Bousselot, R-Ankeny, said he doesn't begrudge hard-working Iowans who choose to keep incentives.

"I fault a system that traps them in poverty, that fundamentally institutionalizes keeping them down," Bousselot said. "That is a tragedy."

The Iowa State Association of Counties is also against the bill because of their stance of support for county home rule and local control, Jamie Cashman told the committee.

Bousselot and Sen. Scott Webster, R-Bettendorf, voted to advance the bill to the full State Government Committee.

Other states, including Arizona, South Dakota and Texas, are targeting guaranteed income programs, according to previous reports by The Center Square.

"This is the epitome of socialism, which guarantees its citizens an income without having to work for it," Arizona Rep. Lupe Diaz stated on his website. "